Pope Discusses Iraq With Assyrian Leader
Mar Dinkha IV Visits Benedict XVI
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- In an audience with the leader of the Assyrian Church, Benedict XVI addressed Christians' situation in Iraq and a renewed commitment to ecumenical dialogue.
The Pope was visited today by Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and his entourage.
The Holy Father said: "Today, tragically, Christians in this region are suffering both materially and spiritually. Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment.
"Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad.
"These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices. In these troubled areas the faithful, both Catholic and Assyrian, are called to work together.
"I hope and pray that they will find ever more effective ways to support and assist one another for the good of all."
Promise of progress
The Pontiff also expressed his desire for greater pastoral cooperation between the Catholic Church and the 400,000 faithful of the Assyrian Church.
He highlighted the positive results of the Churches' joint commission for theological dialogue, a panel that was established after a meeting between Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II.
Benedict XVI said: "Most significant was your visit in November 1994, when you came to Rome, accompanied by members of your holy synod, to sign a common declaration concerning Christology. This declaration included the decision to establish a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.
"The Joint Commission has undertaken an important study of the sacramental life in our respective traditions and forged an agreement on the Anaphora of the Apostles Addai and Mari.
"I am most grateful for the results of this dialogue, which hold out the promise of further progress on other disputed questions. Indeed, these achievements deserve to be better known and appreciated, since they make possible various forms of pastoral cooperation between our two communities."